Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not)," by Jason Shiga

Graphic novels are increasingly often published and increasingly popular. “Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not)” (Abrams, 2011), by Jason Shiga, is an entertaining if somewhat ambiguous new example of the genre. The two main characters, Jimmy and Sara, are friends, but Jimmy wonders if their relationship could be something more. Although he is profoundly uncomfortable about change, he follows Sara from Oakland to New York to see if there is a chance for things to work out with her. He is very socially awkward, and actually generally awkward; she is similarly somewhat nerdy, but with marginally more social savvy. When Jimmy reaches New York, he finds that Sara is dating someone somewhat seriously. It is unclear how much she discerns Jimmy’s feelings, so except for a little flash of understanding, they remain as friends, for the time being anyway. How will it all turn out? We don’t know. The above is the whole of the “plot,” but there are many poignant and beautifully observed and captured moments along the way, some displaying joy, with more illustrating unease or ambivalence. We as readers have to admire Jimmy for breaking out of his rather constricted life, at least for a while, to go after someone he wants. But he is hit with reality over and over again, including on his long bus ride across the country. This is an endearing and sometimes funny book, yet with an edge. The drawings are engaging. One blurb says the book is semi-autobiographical; if so, Shiga has been brave in revealing himself in all his geekdom and vulnerability.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter